Saturday, September 10, 2005


Lots to lose by cancelling New Year's Eve shows

It's always hard to see holiday traditions fade, but Niagara Falls is losing a whopper if the New Year's Eve concert in Queen Victoria Park is cancelled this year.

This show has traditionally drawn a wide television audience, not to mention the more than 20,000 peo­ple who have made the trek to the park annually since the concerts first began more than 10 years ago.

Festival general manager Dino Fazio said he has $250,000 less to work with this year, and the enter­tainment end of the festival will suffer because of that.

Last year, headliner Collective Soul cost $100,000. Fazio said these groups charge a premium because it's the one night of the year they can name their price.

It appears some major sponsors have pulled back because the city is already 'booked solid' New Year's Eve, The theory goes, the entertainment isn't needed because the visitors are already here.

Why not give them, along with the locals, some­thing more to see?

The Niagara Fallsview Casino Resort has been able to secure talent, but even with two shows at the Avalon Theatre, just a little more than 3,000 people at best could see the entertainment.

Other places have been able to come up with free outdoor concerts to ring in the new year. Our Ameri­can neighbours in Buffalo - and it's no secret their governments are cash-strapped - can afford to put on a first night concert.

Aid. Jim Diodati has noted that cancelling the annual New Year's Eve concert is short-sighted, given the publicity Niagara Falls as a tourism destination receives with the broadcast of its festivities.

He's correct. This is a signature event on a national scale. Would anyone dare imagine the New Year's Eve celebration in New York City being cancelled over lack of money? It wouldn't happen.

Through the concert telecasts, once a year people from around Canada see that Niagara Falls is the place to be. How many other cities that aspire to be 'destina­tions' can claim that?

When CNN in the United States shows clips from New Year's Eve celebrations from around the world, they inevitably show London, Paris, New York, Sydney ... and Niagara Falls.

The powers that be had better think long and hard before they surrender that status.

If the Niagara Falls New Year's Eve celebration is allowed to fade into oblivion, more people will tune into the New York celebration. Organizers here would be doing New York tourism a favour.

It has been a disturbing year in terms of cancelling events that thousands of local residents have come to enjoy and plan on.

Earlier this year it was the Blossom Festival Parade, now this. What's next? Canada Day?


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